Nonetheless, the lethal and seemingly indiscriminate strikes, whereas satisfying the bloodthirstiness of Russian hawks, carry some threat for Mr. Putin, not least as a result of they conflict with the Kremlin’s claims that Russia was not concentrating on Ukrainian civilians and was merely conducting a “particular army operation.”
They may additionally put strain on Mr. Putin to escalate additional within the case of further Ukrainian assaults or frontline successes, doubtlessly rising the discord inside Russia’s ruling elite over how exhausting to push in Ukraine.
Certainly, pro-Kremlin figures, whereas celebrating the strikes, struggled to elucidate the incongruence of the fiery assault on cities that, in Mr. Putin’s telling, are core to Russia’s cultural heritage. Some justified the mayhem by blaming Ukraine and the West.
“It’s bitter for us to see missile assaults on probably the most stunning cities on this planet, our Kyiv,” Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin commentator who’s regularly on state tv, wrote on Telegram. “All accountability for the assaults on Kyiv lies with the occupiers and their collaborators. That’s, on Biden and Zelensky personally.”
Inside Russia, few voices on Monday urged restraint. Even because the hawks praised the assaults, some lamented that Mr. Putin didn’t go far sufficient; Dmitri A. Medvedev, the previous Russian president and present vice chairman of Mr. Putin’s Safety Council, mentioned on Telegram that the one technique to defend Russia was to “fully dismantle” the federal government in Ukraine.
Some indicators pointed to Mr. Putin’s being ready for a wider escalation of the conflict. On Saturday, he appointed a basic recognized for his ruthlessness, Sergei Surovikin, to guide the conflict effort in Ukraine. And Mr. Putin’s closest worldwide ally, President Aleksandr G. Lukashenko of Belarus, declared on Monday that 1000’s of Russian troopers would quickly arrive within the nation to type a joint army group with Belarusian forces — creating the specter of a brand new menace to Ukraine’s north.
Vladimir B. Pastukhov, a Russian political scientist and lawyer, mentioned Mr. Putin’s escalations “run counter to his personal instinct” and significantly restrict his coverage choices by backing him right into a nook.